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TorahScope: Nitzavim-V'yeilekh
Featured: TorahScope, Volume II
Wednesday Night Bible Study:
Romans 15:1-12

September 2014 TNN Online Editor's Update
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TorahScope: Ki Tavo
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Wednesday Night Bible Study:
Romans 14:21-23

Announcement: Messianic Kosher Helper -- Coming Soon!

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Featured: Messianic Fall Holiday Helper

August 2014 OIM News




In an effort to expand our outreach to the masses who are searching for and needing Messianic instruction, we are now offering online Bible studies, delivered by TNN Online editor J.K. McKee. Every Wednesday a new teaching which deals with pertinent topics for today’s Messianic Believers will be presented. For the most part, these studies will be focusing on specific books of the Bible, but may from time to time deal with critical subjects as well.

The online Bible studies are all pre-recorded and quite easy to access as MP3 files. This is much easier than having to log in at a preset time into PalTalk. These MP3 files can be listened to from your computer, or downloaded to an MP3 player or compatible CD player.

Click here to access audio teachings

now available on iTunes!


Dear Friends:

September and the Fall often begin a new season of excitement for Messianic people, with the new vitality brought with the High Holidays, new Torah cycle, and often even a new school year. I sincerely hope that you all have been following our almost daily Facebook updates, which are posted to the main pages of both the OIM and TNN websites (if you are not on Facebook). These do comment and make observations on some of the current trends and ideas circulating in Messianic social media.

I begin the month of September with an exciting announcement: it has taken me about one full year to complete the coordination of the Messianic Kosher Helper. This resource has been a long time coming. While two-thirds of this publication addresses Bible passages on the topics of eating and kosher—and its size (674 pages!) seems a little daunting—we have just gone ahead and produced it with the idea that it will be an important reference work which Messianic people can access, when a wide variety of questions and comments regarding eating and diet present themselves. This resource should be available for purchase in paperback and eBook sometime next month.

Any of you who have followed Outreach Israel and TNN Online, for any length of time, know that the tasks of researching and writing on important issues, do not end. A publication like the Messianic Kosher Helper sets a higher common denominator, than what has been seen in previous Messianic analysis on kashrut. Much of the format seen here, will be reproduced in the Messianic Sabbath Helper, which we now know will take much of 2015 to put together.

One of my personal “struggles,” has been in classifying and categorizing which issues get priority to be addressed now, and which issues need to still wait. I confess that I do get disappointed, when I think of all the work that could have been done in the 1990s and 2000s by others, with some things handled not so well, and the personal burden they have placed onto me. So to psychologically handle some of the annoyance, I compartmentalize things—and I view things from the perspective that we might have to wait on addressing a number of topics, because others have apparently needed to have their say (or not). Kosher is a prime example of this, as we had to wait a while to see it thoroughly addressed. With so many things that I want to see achieved, I am doing my best to pace myself, and work on a project-by-project basis. I am even going to be a little “predestinarian” on the timing of when certain things get produced...

Over the next several months, my own routine will change slightly, as I have four chapters yet to complete on Torah In the Balance, Volume II. The Romans Bible study is also in its final stages, with a commentary release due sometime at the end of 2014.

Until next month…

J.K. McKee


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posted 18 September, 2014 to Facebook

It should hardly be a surprise to many of you that as I am supposed to be steadily working on the eBook edition of the Messianic Kosher Helper, that my (John McKee's) attention is going to be focused more on the Scottish independence referendum. As a political science undergraduate, who did take classes on both Britain and Europe, I have been following this for the past seven years very closely, since the SNP came to power in Edinburgh. (In 2003, while at the University of Oklahoma, our EU politics class was visited by the former Labour First Minister Henry McLeish.) More importantly over the past few days, I have watched a number of key newscasts and documentaries on modern Scotland.

What does amaze me is that even though I have never been able to visit to Scotland, and my Scottish ancestors came to North America via Northern Ireland in the late 1770s--that this tiny country continues to affect me and my values, and affect many more of us in the world. Modern Scotland has a population only slightly larger than the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex where I live, yet whether independent or as a part of a changing United Kingdom, it will have far more influence on the world stage than one would think.

As far as anything Biblical about this referendum, this would obviously concern the potential place of the European Union in future prophecy. If the EU is to be a revived Roman Empire, than it would seem logical that an independent Scotland would be a member state on its own, in the EU, and not as a part of the UK. Yet, regardless of the outcome of this referendum, all can take note of how peaceful and respected this has been. I am pleased to say that I have not seen this campaign as one of anti-Englishness, but instead one of self-determination.

I would not presume to know all of the details of what it is like for average people living in Scotland today, the daily pressures they face, the prices and taxes they pay, employment concerns, education concerns, etc. Alas, if I were voting, I would probably vote no, but would do so with the intention of seeing a more federal political structure brought to the UK. While my surname is McKee from Clan MacKay, the surnames in my mother's family are undeniably English: Jeffries, Franklin, Worthington, Tuck, and her ancestors came to North America in the 1600s. I have on numerous occasions, even as an American, described my ancestry as "British," and I am keen to correct anyone who incorrectly calls the UK "England."

posted 15 September, 2014 to Facebook

As the editor of TNN Online and chief coordinator for TNN Press, the most frequently asked question that I (JKM) ever get asked is, "Do you have a book on Topic XYZ?"Given the wide array of articles, FAQ entries, books, commentaries, and other publications we have released, no one can accuse our ministry of being lackadaisical;we stay extremely busy. However, much of the pressure that we have experienced in years past (especially 2011-2013), is being able to determine the right time of when to address a particular issue, and whether or not it is prudent to wait on certain issues.

A major guiding ethos of Outreach Israel and TNN Online has been, "The one who first states a case seems right, until the other comes and cross-examines" (Proverbs 18:17, NRSV). We are certainly a cross-examining voice, often having to interject a position of moderation, temperance, and conciliation to controversies of tension within the broad Messianic community. What this does mean is that in order to see a topic or an issue be given the correct treatment or a thorough handling, it means that other voices may get to speak about it first. There are an entire array of topics, issues, and controversial subjects which people ask us about all the time. Not all of them have been addressed in the form of a mini-book, book, or commentary.

A policy which we have learned to follow, which has not only lessened much of the internal tension we have had as to why certain publications have yet to be released--but most importantly have turned the timing of some future projects over to the Lord--is simply making sure that others have had an adequate say over an issue, before we commit to writing something beyond an article or two about it. There are many publications we have on the drawing board, which are going to have to wait until we can adequately enter in as a fair, reasonable, but perhaps also critical, cross-examining voice. Knowing the issues which are "primed and ready to go," requires a fair balance of gauging the will of the Holy Spirit, as well as evaluating the practical circumstances of our ever-changing Messianic faith community.

posted 12 September, 2014 to Facebook

If there is anything true about my (JKM) generation (20s-30s), it is that we do not like to be told what to believe--but we instead want to be told why we should believe something, with well thought out arguments and evidence. Some of this is doubtlessly due to the world events which have affected us, like 9/11 and the lead-up to the Iraq War. Other things that have affected us, have been the advent of the Information Age and social media. The availability of being able to access multiple opinions and positions on issues or controversies, has surely affected how we do not often appreciate being "talked down do."

I recently read an article by a prominent Messianic Jewish leader, which epitomized what it meant to be talked down to. Now, I believe that anyone can believe what they want. I do not believe in censorship. But, to just throw around Bible references, assume what they mean, and never take any real time (even if in other writings) to examine them in detail, is insulting to the intelligence of those in my generation. Position statements and op-ed pieces do not help those who want to see explanations as to why we should believe something.

This is a big reason why TNN Press is always out there to produce new books, commentaries, and publications--which are keen to address the controversial issues hitting our Messianic faith community.

posted 11 September, 2014 to Facebook

Where were you thirteen years ago on the morning of September 11? I was in Burton Hall at The University of Oklahoma, getting ready to start my British politics class. It was an extremely tense day, as the news reports of the aircraft hijackings steadily came in. In the afternoon, I had my modern Hebrew class, where we came in, we talked to our Israeli professor about terrorism, and then we were let go early. Several days later, given the close proximity of Tinker Air Force Base, we got to see NATO / OTAN AWACS fly over our campus, en route from Belgium.

My junior and senior years at OU following, were certainly packed with their share of developments, as I was majoring in political science. I got to witness not only the aftermath of 9/11 and the anti-terror war begin in Afghanistan, but also the lead up to the Iraq War, with many professors certainly having their viewpoints made known to the students.

9/11 is a terrible tragedy that will forever be remembered by those who were there to witness it. Many innocent people lost their lives, and should be memorialized today. Yet, if we go out into the world and are deathly afraid when we encounter Arabs or Muslims, the terrorists have succeeded: they have made us afraid, and those terrorized will tend to do anything to make the violence go away. Ultimately, only the the King of Kings will stop terrorism and the machinations of our fallen world--but a human fight does continue. Men and women have given their lives to see that those of us in America and the West, might live our lives in freedom and liberty.

posted 10 September, 2014 to Facebook

In our Wednesday Night Bible Study, we have examined Romans ch. 14 from the vantage point that this correspondence is not an abstract essay on things indifferent--but rather are concrete directions intended to correct incidents that arose during fellowship meal times.

Surely, some Messianic people have written things about Romans 14. What have they said? This week's podcast will be evaluating what Messianic writers have said about Romans 14, and how we can properly apply this text for our contemporary circumstances.

posted 09 September, 2014 to Facebook

[W]hat can frequently happen, is that the non-Jewish Messianic who has taken considerable offense at being called a “Gentile,” will build a kind of personal credo around Ephesians 2:11, where the Apostle Paul says:

“Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called ‘Uncircumcision’ by the so-called ‘Circumcision,’ which is performed in the flesh by human hands—”

It is from a verse like this where many non-Jewish Messianic Believers will claim that they are former Gentiles. It is absolutely true that for any non-Believer to come to saving faith in Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ), that he or she is no longer a kind of pagan, heathen, idolater, insolent rebel, or even atheist against the Creator. Yet Paul’s words to those in Asia Minor are specific in that he speaks of those here as ta ethnē en sarki, “the nations in the flesh” (YLT) or “you who are Gentiles by birth” (NIV). When people come to faith in Yeshua, even though they may be saved and spiritually regenerated, their DNA does not change. He identifies these people as being of the nations, in the flesh. The former status that Paul is obviously more concerned about, and so should any of us for that matter, is detailed in Ephesians 2:11-12 together:

“Therefore remember that formerly…you were at that time separate from Messiah, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.”

A status of being removed from Israel’s Messiah, Israel’s polity, Israel’s covenants, and being without the hope and knowledge of the Creator God—is what is really considered to be the former status for the non-Jewish Believers addressed in Ephesians. This is one which has been fully reversed. The non-Jewish Believers in Asia Minor now know Israel’s Messiah, they are a part of Israel’s polity, they now benefit from Israel’s covenants, and they are truly known by the Creator God.

excerpted from the FAQ entry, "Gentile, Term"

posted 08 September, 2014 to Facebook

As we prepare to commemorate the Fall high holidays--and incidentally enough both the Messianic Kosher Helper and Romans commentary enter into their final stages of production--many questions and thoughts have been understandably circulating in my (JKM) mind. A big one, concerns the ongoing divisions and factionalism of the broad Messianic movement. 2014, so far, has not seen any major "incidents" take place. But, there have been an array of posturing actions taken via white papers, position statements, or the evitable caustic blog. These things have not been helpful in trying to formulate reasonable solutions and facilitate resolution, to the issues which tend to divide us.

"So where do I stand?" I have been asking myself. Increasingly, I have been calling myself: NON-ESTABLISHMENT. There is a good possibility that if a more popular Messianic voice or organization promotes something today, that I am likely to have a dissenting opinion, and/or will disagree about the implementation of it. Yet, being non-establishment is hardly being anti-establishment. I believe in careful, reasoned study of God's Word, being temperate and tactful in formulating positions, and being engaged in what Jewish and Christian scholars have said. If I were anti-establishment, I would have hardly gone to seminary to work on an M.A. in Biblical Studies. I would instead solely think that theology could be formulated with a single English version of the Bible and the Holy Spirit (and perhaps also a Strong's Concordance)--which I firmly do not believe.

Non-establishment is more like be unaligned. Do not be constrained by what organizations are doing. Be a responsible Believer in examining the Biblical text, and go where the text takes you in a responsible way. Be permitted to exist in an environment that favors academic freedom and expression of views, provided those views are adequately defended and fairly explained.

posted 05 September, 2014 to Facebook

I (JKM) just spent the past year (Sept 2013-Sept 2014) coordinating the production of the Messianic Kosher Helper (676 pages). Over two-thirds of this publication addresses Bible passages from the Tanach and Apostolic Writings on the topics of eating and kosher. Some of them have never been addressed by a Messianic teacher.

How do I feel? Aside from the fact that this publication still has to go through post-production--a great sense of relief, more than anything else. Where there are more topics on the horizon--and the next "big book" like this will be the Messianic Sabbath Helper--this resource is going to fill a major gap, surrounding an issue where too many get easily tripped up or confused. It certain represents a "game changer"--in light of the level of engagement, and scope, which needs to emerge in more Messianic writing!

posted 04 September, 2014 to Facebook

TNN Press is pleased to announce that the significant bulk of writing for the forthcoming Messianic Kosher Helper is now complete! This publication is going to be a massive resource to aid Messianic people on the topic of eating, not just in discussing the significance of kashrut, but also in addressing a wide variety of Biblical passages from both the Tanach and Apostolic Scriptures.

The Messianic Kosher Helper is presently being edited. Look for a release announcement for both paperback and eBook for Amazon Kindle coming in October!


posted 03 September, 2014 to Facebook

One of the most perplexing statements in Romans 14, is Paul's remark, " I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean" (14:14, NASU). Many believe that Paul has just made the distinction of clean and unclean meats one entire of personal preference and choice. Yet, is it at all significant that the term koinos, and not akathartos, is employed? As an alternate translation might read, "I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing by itself is common; except to the one deeming anything to be common, it is common" (LITV).

This evening's Wednesday Night Bible Study podcast will continue examining Romans 14 from the perspective of controversy having arisen during fellowship meal times. Why would some consider meat served to be "common" or "defiled," and others not?

posted 02 September, 2014 to Facebook

The Epistle to the Hebrews is the second most difficult book of the Bible for today's Messianic people to understand. While there are various background issues and perspective issues of various passages, to be considered in commentaries and exegesis papers--there are also various translations of terms and clauses, which are important to be aware of as well.

The following Author's Rendering of the Epistle to the Hebrews is excerpted from the commentary Hebrews for the Practical Messianic. It definitely includes some translations which you are not likely to see in any other Messianic rendition of Hebrews!


posted 01 September, 2014 to Facebook

Nine years go, in September 2005, a major fiasco hit the broad Messianic community, with the release of a number of articles by Monte Judah of Lion and Lamb Ministries, in which he proceeded to argue that the Epistle to the Hebrews had an unreliable and inappropriate message for Messiah followers. While his rhetoric against Hebrews was strong, the general impression given was that its author did not know what he was talking about, and that Messianic people should remove Hebrews from their regimen of spiritual instruction.

The Hebrews incident, while exhibiting a very, very irresponsible approach to Bible teaching--actually did us more of a positive service than we might realize. It made many of us realize how behind the curve the Messianic movement was, in terms of its understanding of the Apostolic Scriptures, and the Bible as a whole--and how under-developed our approaches to difficult passages, traditionally interpreted as being anti-Torah, were also. It got me to produce the volume Hebrews for the Practical Messianic, and many more subsequent commentaries!


posted 29 August, 2014 to Facebook

There are a huge array of pressure and tension issues in the Messianic movement. These include, but are not limited to: the salvation and redemption of the Jewish people, non-Jewish Believers embracing their Hebraic Roots, the validity of God's Torah in the post-resurrection era, the nature of Yeshua, and the unity and value of all in the Body of Messiah.

A widely unrecognized or even unknown point of tension regards the composition and reliability of Holy Scripture. For the most part, the broad Messianic movement has tended to take a rather simplistic and somewhat fundamentalist view of the composition of the Biblical books. While a major part of this is due to the lack of commentaries produced from a Messianic perspective, another major part is simply wanting to ignore or dismiss presumed "controversies" that can divide Believers. Yet, being a little more cognizant of controversies and debates going back a century or more, is going to need to take place, as we mature forward as a faith community.


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Last Updated 18 September, 2014